Editor’s Note: I’m proud to feature other wonderful authors and entrepreneurs on “It’s Not Just Lunch”. I love the fact that Kid Companions Chewelry is helping so many kids (and parents!) and I’m happy to share with my readers, the story of the mom and grandma who brought it to market.
The Long Road to “Chewelry”
For the past ten years, my daughter Pierrette had run her own company, Bijoux Pierrette d’Entremont Jewelry Designs. I had just retired from a 30-year teaching career in elementary schools and was very excited to give Pierrette a hand. We teamed up and are now celebrating the success of our first year of marketing the innovative Kid Companions Chewelry.
Pierrette had noticed how her 3 year old appreciated a clay heart pendant she had made for her teething sister. As she observed, it struck her that the 3 year old could chew and fidget discreetly while her nursing infant could tug and teeth to her hearts’ content all on the same item. After a few comments from parents, phone calls to child healthcare professionals, and fruitless product searches, she realized that other parents were looking for such accessories, especially for their special needs children.
Pierrette ‘s solution to provide a safe, chewing, fidgeting accessory for her own children now benefits thousands of special needs kids. The sensory, oral-motor Kid Companions Chewelry, being sold in stores in the United States, Canada and Australia had its beginning in the home of this young mom of three young children.
Our Big Break
Our journey to design and get Kid Companions Chewelry on the market began in 2006. It meant creating something that was chewable and tuggable while still being “cool” enough to blend in. By trial and error, Pierrette designed pendants and baked them in her home oven. When she was satisfied with her pendants’ shape, size, colors, we met with engineers who worked on the molds, and researched the best materials to use. At the same time we designed a custom made clasp and finally found a 100% organic cotton lanyard that met our requirements.
Like all start-up businesses, we were strapped for capital to move our new business forward. So in 2007, Pierrette entered her fledgling company in a provincial competition for new businesses. The process took months of preparation as she advanced through each stage of the competition. We worked endlessly drawing up Business Plans, Business Projections and Power Point presentations. In the end our efforts were handsomely rewarded and we proved “we were the little company that could”!
We placed second in the InNOVAcorp I-3 Technology Start-Up Competition and received $25,000 cash for expenses and $15,000 in kind services for development of our Kid Companions Chewelry business.
What followed was a rollercoaster ride with lawyers, accountants, governmental agencies, mentors… advising on patent, trademark, international insurance, export ready issues, CPSIA compliance certificate, choke hazard tests, safety regulations, shipping, marketing … Some days we felt we were in the “House of Horrors” instead of on a rollercoaster.
With the knowledge Pierrette had gained designing her jewelry business web site, she now went to work and designed our online store Chewelry.ca. Then it was business cards, rack cards, packaging… The tasks and red tape were endless.
But with the results of our market research in the summer of 2008, we realized just how important the fidgeting, chewing, biting and sensory processing issues were to parents. We knew we were on the right track and dared invest one more year of unpaid time and money to get all our ducks in a row.
The struggle was worth it
Occupational Therapist now recommend Kid Companions Chewelry to Special Needs children, often those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Down syndrome (DS) and Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD). As a sensory oral- motor tool it addresses the issues of inappropriate biting, chewing and teeth grinding.
For children with ADHD who are unable to inhibit the impulse to move around, Kid Companions Chewelry allows discreet fidgeting to help these hyperactive children to focus better. Also, the strong jaw muscles are a great way to use pent-up energy by chewing to stay on task.
Children with Aspergers who do not like transitions, going from home to school or from homeroom to another class, cafeteria, gym… find security and comfort holding on to their Kid Companions Chewelry as they would holding on to a ‘blanky’.
Features of Kid Companions Chewelry
The following features bring parents peace of mind and provide kids, tweens and teens with a safe, chewable fidget.
- No BPA, phalates, PVC, lead, or latex
- Composed of non-toxic, medical grade polymer products
- Have non-toxic, 100% organic cotton lanyards undyed or dyed
- Custom breakaway clasp that conforms to ASTM toy safety standards.
- Dishwasher safe for added sterility
- Made in Canada and sourced in Canada and United States
From the users’ perspective, Kid Companions Chewelry is:
- Designed to be worn or clipped and always accessible.
- Small and efficient so it is not an embarrassment to the wearer or a distraction to others.
- Discreet and stylish to facilitate the wearer to blend in and to feel calm, comfortable and in control.
- Personalized with contact, medical and allergy information
- Made of appealing sensory materials, configured to provide a combination of hard and soft, rigid and pliable, curved and concave, hand tactile experiences.
Kid Companions Chewelry helps special needs children to relax, to focus, to find comfort, and makes the challenges in their daily lives easier to confront.
Twitter: @Chewelry twitter: @PAdEntremont twitter:@ lornadEnt
The Coffee Klatch: A virtual cup of coffee with parents of special needs children. Moderators: Marianne ~ Elise ~ Pierrette ~ Jane ~ Chuck
Special Needs have always interested me, as a teacher for 30 years, as a mother and as a grandmother of children with Tourettes and sensory perception issues. My daughter, Pierrette, and I are proud to have designed and marketed Kid Companions Chewelry. Writing about Special Needs for my blog, my second career, and being a grandmother keep me young at heart. –Lorna d’Entremont